If ever a city's name revealed its origins, Baden-Baden is it. The English name of the town in Baden-Württemberg, on the edge of the Black Forest
, translates to Bath, and twice at that. That Baden, or bath, refers to the area's hot springs, and you can continue a 140-year old tradition by visiting one of the town's two thermal springs. Baden-Baden also has all the parks and cultural institutions you'd expect of a city that has attracted Europe's wealthiest citizens since the 19th century.
Head next to another university city, Freiburg, where the luxury Colombi Hotel is named for an old manor house at the edge of its old town. The family-run property has an indoor pool along with solarium and sauna facilities. With stunning views of the surrounding Black Forest hills and the town of Elzach down below, the Elztalhotel is a spa retreat with more than 5,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor pools.
In the Black Forest town of Baiersbronn you'll find an impressive number of Michelin stars. The Schwarzwaldstube, in the hotel Traube Tonbach, is a three-star Michelin restaurant known for classic French cooking. The more casual Drexlers in Freiburg pairs its wines with market-fresh tasting menus.
The village of Schiltach sits 1,000 feet up in the Black Forest and if you're tired of taking the waters, the Hirschgrund Zipline operations there might appeal instead. Another option for the afternoon is to head to the Dorotheenhütte in Wolfach for a tour of the glassworks and a visit to the glass museum.
Tip: Gin is probably not the first spirit you would associate with the Black Forest, but Monkey 47 produces what is arguably the world's best. Make an appointment to take one of their distillery tours.